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Stellaris Dev Diary #194: Intel

Hello everyone!

Last week we started talking about some of the changes we’re making to establishing first contact, and as promised, today we will continue talking about how you can learn more about alien empires.

All of the things we are talking about today is work in progress and may not accurately reflect the finished product. That said, we still want to hear your thoughts and read your feedback!

Background
It always felt like there was so much missing potential when it came to learning more about alien civilizations in the game. We didn’t like that you had so much information as soon as you established communication with an alien empire – all of their borders would be revealed, and the diplomatic window would reveal most of the other information. We aim to change a lot of that.

We want alien civilizations to feel more mysterious and unknown. We want the experience of learning more about alien empires to be an equally important and fun aspect of exploration.

Fog of War
As we briefly showed last week, we are making some changes to fog of war, and what type of information you will be getting about other empires.

You will no longer see all of the systems and borders occupied by the empire you have recently contacted, but it will now instead be tied to how much Intel you have. This really makes alien empires feel way more mysterious, which is something that we really like.

1606994201224.png

The information on the empire to the galactic south-east is very limited. We can see their homeworld and the borders explored by our science ship.

1606994215499.png

The galaxy as seen from the yellow empire in the top-right. There are a bunch of empires that we know very little about, and there are still more that are undiscovered.

Intel
Like mentioned above, our primary objective is to make alien empires feel more mysterious and unknown. We wanted to hide information and allow you to learn more about other empires as you gain more Intel on them. Our goal is to make the Intel game a part of the exploration aspect of Stellaris.

1606995038428.png

An alien empire recently established communications with us. Friends..?

Let’s take a look at how we have designed the Intel game to work.

First off there is Intel, which is a value between 0 and 100. You have a current Intel value, and you have a “target” Intel value, up to which it can grow. You usually have an Intel floor, which is the lowest value it can be, depending on a couple of factors such as:
  • Diplomatic Pacts (Research Agreements, Commercial Pacts etc.)
  • Trust
  • REDACTED (doesn’t look like anything to you)

1606994226596.png

Depending on things like diplomatic pacts, trust or other things, your Intel will grow over time.

Intel Categories
Information is split between different Intel Categories, such as Government, Military, Diplomatic, Economic, Technology. Categories can have different Intel Levels as well, ranging from None to Full. The Intel categories and their levels are what determines what information you have access to. Here are some examples:
  • Low Government Intel (Intel: 10) would reveal basic things like empire name, authority, ethics, capital location.
  • Low Military Intel (Intel: 40) would reveal starbases and relative military power.
  • Medium Government Intel (Intel: 40) would reveal civics and origin.
  • Medium Diplomacy Intel (Intel: 50) would reveal the opinion breakdown and let us see which diplomatic pacts they have with other empires.
The Intel you have on another empire heavily influences the Intel Categories, but it is not the only driving factor. It is also possible to have a higher Intel level in a certain category than what you would normally get from your level of Intel. One such example is Intel Reports, and we’ll talk about some other examples in future dev diaries.

Intel Reports
Intel Reports allow you to gain more information in a certain category, on a timed basis. It would be, for example, possible to gain an Intel Report which lasts for 720 days and gives you a High level of Military Intel, whereas otherwise High Military Intel might require you to have 80 Intel on the empire.

Stale Intel
It is said that knowledge is power, and intel is a form of knowledge. Power usually fades, and so does Intel. It is possible to lose access to information that was previously accessible. In some cases, this information will now be displayed as stale.

1606994248796.png

Intel, now in the scent of working from home for months.

The last information you had about the empire was that they were far weaker than you on many accounts, but perhaps they have strengthened their fleets by now? Stale Intel can also mean that you may no longer see if the borders for an empire change or not.

-------

That's it for this week! Hopefully you've gained some Intel into how the game is changing for the upcoming expansion :)
 

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omg I'm so excited! This all looks really intriguing and I can't wait to see how it all ties in with REDACTED.

There is only one thing I'm a bit torn about: Please be careful that losing intel or stale intel or whatever exactly will happen doesn't get too annoying. I can easily imagine that mechanic getting very annoying for the player to stay on top of all those things or that it leads to more micro etc. I don't want to have to click the same buttons over and over here and there every few ingame months just to keep knowing what I already know.
I hope you know what I mean but I trust you to get it just exactly right.
 
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King Harkinian

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This sounds really interesting. I assume things like the score breakdown will be obfuscated as well - currently that's a way to get extremely precise information about every empire when you know how the scoring works.

I hope there will be some more nuanced diplomacy coming with this patch as well though. Things like combining resource trades with diplomatic deals - we should be able to get a research agreement with a superior empire by paying them resources as part of the deal, for example, or bribe an empire into joining a war. Joining an ongoing war - or leaving one you joined as an ally before the main combatants make peace - should also be a thing. Many of the diplomatic systems are simply way too rigid at present.
 
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Will intel be tradeable? While this is not necessarily something you'd want with AI empires, it would be useful between human players and for modding purposes (just like trading systems).
 
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Mealya

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StellarisFan1

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Will they add sabotage mechanics and fleet disguise to the game? The promised paradox
 
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Really excited for this patch.

Will intel be a thing for the AI too or will it cheat and see all? Whilst the former sounds great I'm a bit worried how well the AI will handle it.
 
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This is an absurd boon to developp the array of weapons available in this game. Please paradox, in the name of everything that is spiritualist.

DO NOT MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY

this intel system will mean nothing if you know the newly discovered alien use tier 1 kinetic tier 1 laser.
It will also hardly be worth the effort if the Tech/Unity dichotomy remain the way it is.

Espionnage is great, don't get me wrong, but according to me the true bane of stellaris are the lack of engagement in the unity system and the lack of variety in space battles,
 
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Hmm, this is a bit unrelated to the main topic, but could Lithoid and Necroid fallen empires maybe keep the fallen empire rooms instead of converting to these? It works for regular empires, but it robs fallen empires of some of their flavor.

Except for fallen empires AI rooms should be random. Currenly the Ai uses the room designed for their personality during first contact. If this stays the case in the new system you will see at a glance that this empire is a purifier or federations builder etc. without intel.

I guess megastructures and gateways will also be hidden by the fog of war?

Will criminal syndicates get something special for the intel game to make them more interesting?

Does the arcane technology ascension perk affect the intel other empires generate on you/you generate on others?
 
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The information on the empire to the galactic south-east is very limited. We can see their homeworld and the borders explored by our science ship.
I wouldn't even show the Homeworld or I would tie it into the information policy. If the empire has an open policy you would find an office of the tourism board at the border station. "The Blorg welcome you to the empire what do you want to see"
If an empire is closed the border station should justpost a message, if you move one klick further we will shoot at you and you'd only know that Cofeve is claimed by the Blorg.

Will the Sentry Array reveal all the galaxy (remove Fog of War) or also will contribute to Intel?
I would guess that it would only reveal the empires size and fleets but not be able to tap into the internal empire network.

I hope that the ascension paths will be taken into account also.
You've gone full Genetic, congrats you can pose as one of their own and inflitrate.
Psionics? Just look into the mind.
Machines, hello mr. computer tell me everything.
Depending on your kind of ascension you should be able to defend against these empirse in a rock paper scissors way.
 
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Al Davoodi

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So we can create a romulan empire like empire in Stellaris which tries to be mysterious and tries to hide anything and dealing with that empire can be a huge mess?
 
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LiberiusX

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@grekulf

any chance you could obfuscate fleet power numbers? I.e. any fleets not in a system you control(or have an active fleet in) would have a “range” of fleet power, and size of said range(with the median also offset) would be inverse determined by military intel and sensor level? Low intel would create high uncertainty about enemy fleet strength. Opposite being true.

(could open the door for stealth tech)

or heck, just make fleet power a shifting/unreliable number
 
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This looks great! Limited intel, more mystery, I like it!

An idea that could interact in interesting ways with the limited intel system and could create some nice emergent stories (and reduce construction ship micro):

Allow empires to add claims to unoccupied systems as well as systems that seem unoccupied according to the empires' intel.

If two empires claim the same system or an empire claims a system that is owned/claimed by another (with or without knowing about the other's claims), this could trigger a diplomatic incident that could escalate into rivalry or possibly war.

If the system is claimed by an undiscovered empire, the science ship or the construction ship that builds the starbase (I'm not sure what would work better in this case) would initate first contact, and the claim dispute would have an impact on the first contact events.

This could be combined with automated construction ships (tech gated like automated exploration perhaps?) which would automatically attempt to build starbases in systems you have surveyed and claimed, potentially initiating the described mechanic.
 
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Koopa

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does that mean we will also not know if a big name on the map has in the meantime, for example, beeing eaten by a devouring swarm?
 
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An alien empire recently established communications with us. Friends..?

Yep, sure they are friends. Go colonize a world near them so you can be closer :p

The Intel idea isn't bad, but i don't know how much good it can be. Don't take me wrong, so far this is good. Getting fragmented info on other empires is what worries me. You need to know things before going to war. Defense treaties, relative power. Not knowing that is part of the Intel game, but also can make you commit mistakes. Hope the Intel systems works and doesn't become a problem that drags the fun of conquering people :)

On a side note. Anyone else got the sudden urge to buy a processor after reading this DD? :p
 
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lakrids404

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It could be interesting if the states could project more or less strength in different areas, by setting aside resources for the masquerade(tm).

Then you could have a devious pacifist state , that would want to look weak. So it could have valid reason to conqueror hostile neighbour states.
or
Bullying military states, who demands tribute, but are in reality paper tigers.
 
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Calvax

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The Intel idea isn't bad, but i don't know how much good it can be. Don't take me wrong, so far this is good. Getting fragmented info on other empires is what worries me. You need to know things before going to war. Defense treaties, relative power. Not knowing that is part of the Intel game, but also can make you commit mistakes. Hope the Intel systems works and doesn't become a problem that drags the fun of conquering people :)

Remains to be seen how it plays but from what we've seen so far if you choose to go to war with bad intel and lose because of it...well that's on you! That's a fun consequence of play and makes the game more strategic. Do you go to war now based on stale intel, do you wait to gather more intel first meaning you might need to decide where to pull assets from (assuming envoys are used for intel reports) etc.
 
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King Harkinian

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Mar 20, 2019
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It occurred to me - with these changes, we will hopefully be allowed to survey systems in other empires in order to gain intel on them, expanding the usefulness of science ships.

This ties into what I mentioned before about diplomacy - we should be able to ask empires for open borders so we can explore them, and even offer resources in return to sweeten the deal.
 
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Cat_Fuzz

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I can see the potential boost to Psionics with this eg, never having Intel go stale, bonuses to Intel gap or gain etc.

I can also see some of the weaker starbase buildings becoming more useful eg. Communication jammer maybe reducing Intel in a system, or blacksites allowing for some espionage stuff.
 
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Cat_Fuzz

Lt. General
May 10, 2016
1.447
1.510
It occurred to me - with these changes, we will hopefully be allowed to survey systems in other empires in order to gain intel on them, expanding the usefulness of science ships.

This ties into what I mentioned before about diplomacy - we should be able to ask empires for open borders so we can explore them, and even offer resources in return to sweeten the deal.

It was talked about waaay back before Utopia was made, but there were suggestions of having civilian and military border control, so that you could allow some empires in to survey and explore (possibly even build in unclaimed territory) and an option allow fleets. You can allow one or the other, both or neither.
 
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